Writing Tips & Tricks
Can the Essay Set You Free?
"The thrill of reading a great essay is sensing and sharing the discovery of the writer. Paradoxically, we need the genre now more than ever. In these shouty times, the quiet assurance and understated erudition of the essay speak louder than ever. In its purest form, the essay achieves something often missed by writing that is determined to be relentlessly punchy and relevant."
I found an interesting article today on the continuing relevance of the essay. Written in response to the publication of Essayists on the Essay: Montaigne to Our Time, by the University of Iowa Press, it makes the case that the essay form offers far more freedom than the newspaper article, which, by nature, has to worry about readership stats.
Essays are the primary form of writing that teachers assign for students from about 5th or 6th grade through graduate school and this is because the form demands discovery. As students write an essay, they learn their subject and they demonstrate that knowledge to the teacher.
Certainly, the essay form, as taught in schools can be too restrictive when it comes to structure. Some students learn the 5 paragraph format and never move beyond it. But those who do, those who organize their essays to really reflect their learning, gain a new and broader understanding of their subject matter. The essay allows students to demonstrate that understanding to themselves and their instructors and therein lies its true value as an educational tool.
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